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The Space Between: Skin colour should not affect the way people are treated

Author Ofentse Morwane. File image.

Author Ofentse Morwane. File image.

Published Jun 6, 2021


Johannesburg – More than a quarter of a century since South Africa became a democracy, the scourge of racism disappointingly continues to rear its ugly head.

It remains a contentious issue in our society. It is anti-human and constitutes a gross violation of human rights.

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This week, angry parents and pupils took to the streets to object to a lack of diversity and transformation at Cornwall Hill College, in Irene near Tshwane. The Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago, whose daughter had been subjected to discrimination at the school, led the anti-racism protest.

The protest was significant to escalate an issue, to influence change. The school, they complained, had a discriminatory culture and did not represent the country’s demographics. This was a bold decision to expose racial inequalities and discrimination experienced by black people at the school.

In truth, racism affects all South Africans, irrespective of their professional and social stature. The racism at Cornwall Hill College is just a tip of the iceberg.

This incident was a stark reminder of the sad reality we are facing as a country. Some white people want to exist in isolation. As such, they stifle any attempts that seek to advance diversity and integration of black people into their space, for equal opportunities.

It explains why a school such as Cornwall Hill College, which is more than 20 years old, has allegedly never had more than 25% admissions of black pupils.

This is a clear case of systematic racism. It would seem those who benefited from centuries of colonial and apartheid racial domination seem hellbent to defend this at all costs.

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The road to democracy in South Africa was marked with centuries of racial and economic discrimination and oppression. The effects of the apartheid system are still felt by millions of black people to this day.

Twenty-seven years into democracy, there are still those who do not acknowledge that they benefited from this barbaric system. They continue to show us the middle finger. They have not accepted that apartheid was brutal and evil.

Racial discrimination and white dominance, in their view, should blatantly prevail. They still embrace the culture of intolerance and lack of respect for black lives fostered during the past regime.

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South Africans should not allow their voices to fight racism to be drowned out. They should be on high alert and raise the volume to expose it every time it occurs. We should make the space small for those who insist on this evil practice. It is important that South Africans should value one another, learn from their differences, and contribute positively to to our society.

The parents and pupils at Cornwall Hill College did what all South African should do across our different sectors – name and shame those who perpetuate racial and discriminatory practices. We should continue to unashamedly raise awareness and share our experiences.

More importantly, a dialogue on this ugly reality must be sustained. It is important that we should continue to create platforms that allow us to engage about race relations and raise the alarm every time it happens.

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